A birthday is always cause for celebration, but some seem so much bigger than others. As we come upon my eldest daughter’s thirteenth birthday, I find myself become extremely emotional, more so than for any other of my children’s birthdays that have passed.
The reflections I have in looking back on her life so far are as much about myself as they are about her. The studies I read about human developmental stage in earning my Psychology degree – especially those of Erik Erikson – make so much more sense now that I have lived through early adulthood and have a child entering adolescence.
To everything there is a time and season. According to Erikson, we must progress through stages successfully in order to go on to the next. It is our job as parents to help that happen, by encouraging them in the right direction. But the individual has to master skills on his or her own – if the parent does too much it stifles development. So parents are constantly weighing what is the right thing to do – or not do – as their children grow.
We see our children as a product of ourselves, so our own self-esteem is wrapped up around how we perceive our children. If we are happy with how they are turning out, we can feel good about that; if not, we are filled with waves of self-doubt. In both cases, we have to offer up our children to God, giving Him credit for who they are and asking for grace to deal with the challenges we face as their parents.
Being a parent has changed my whole perception of reality. I have learned exponentially with each year more about God, life, and myself. I see that I worried unnecessarily about little things years ago that don’t matter now. I see that you can direct your path to a certain degree but some things you can never predict.
I look with wonder and awe at a child who biologically is the product of me and my husband and who has been shaped to a certain degree by us, but who constantly amazes us with qualities that could only have been God-given. I think of all the choices we have made and the results of those and I am happy that God guided us; and that we listened.
I think with hope toward her future and pray God will continue to guide us in the right direction; that she will continue to listen to the Holy Spirit in all she does and constantly grow in her faith and as the person God has meant for her to be.
I pray for all the parents out there in whatever stage they may be, that they can be thankful for whatever it is they have been given, and put themselves and their children in God’s hands, accepting the past and embracing the present, always looking forward.
Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller
The Divine Gift of Motherhood